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Interplay between auxin and sugar signaling in root development

Across the tree of life sugars are central energy signaling molecules. The post-embryonic developmental plasticity of plants relies on the ability of stem cell populations (termed meristems) to integrate environmental cues, such as carbon availability with hormone signaling for coordinated growth and developmental transitions. Auxin is one of the classical plant hormones in plant development and it is well appreciated that auxin influences many aspects of plant growth; how diverse growth responses are driven by one simple molecule is still an outstanding question in the field. Our long-term goal is to understand cellular states associated with auxin signaling that mediate plant growth, with a particular emphasis on the interplay between auxin and sucrose signaling. Through proteomics and genetic screens we have recently discovered two novel proteins that may integrate auxin and sugar signaling cues to modulate root growth by influencing stem cell properties. We are calling bottomless mutants and have recently published our initial characterization of the gaut10 mutant in Molecular & Cellular Proteomics (Pu et. al, 2019). One protein is a myosin and the other is a glucosyltransferase. These proteins belong to evolutionarily conserved families which exhibit distinct cellular activities. We are currently using genetics, microscopy and proteomics to further study the roles of these proteins in Arabidopsis. Altogether these studies will lead to new mechanistic insights regarding how auxin and glucose signaling converge on downstream cellular proteins factors to regulate stem cell populations.

chart showing plant growth with sucrose or no sucrose, and with WT or bottomless